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Moral Motivation A History by Iakovos (Professor of Philosophy, The Graduate Center, City University of New York) Vasiliou


Moral Motivation A History by Iakovos (Professor of Philosophy, The Graduate Center, City University of New York) Vasiliou

Moral Motivation presents a history of the concept of moral motivation. The book consists of ten chapters by eminent scholars in the history of philosophy, covering Plato, Aristotle, later Peripatetic philosophy, medieval philosophy, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Kant, Fichte and Hegel, and the consequentialist tradition. In addition, four interdisciplinary Reflections discuss how the topic of moral motivation arises in epic poetry, Cicero, early opera, and Theodore Dreiser. Most contemporary philosophical discussions of moral motivation focus on whether and how moral beliefs by themselves motivate an agent (at least to some degree) to act. In much of the history of the concept, especially before Hume, the focus is rather on how to motivate people to act morally as well as on what sort of motivation a person must act from (or what end an agents acts for) in order to be a genuinely ethical person or even to have done a genuinely ethical action. The book shows the complexity of the historical treatment of moral motivation and, moreover, how intertwined moral motivation is with central aspects of ethical theory.


This collection of interesting essays is part of the Oxford Philosophical Concepts series, which aims to examine the many sources, often interdisciplinary, of contemporary philosophical concepts. In this regard, the volume is a success: it includes fresh, insightful reflections on philosophy in the ancient, medieval, and modern periods. Topics range from the ideas of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero to Jewish and Christian moral philosophy to Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Kant, Fichte, and Hegel. The interdisciplinary component is provided by three reflections : essaysWide ranging and lucid, this rich set of readings reveals the subtle complexities of a topic central to moral life and ethical theory. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. * S.A. Mason, CHOICE * In sum, this volume includes a number of strong and even groundbreaking contributions. While most readers are likely to focus on the chapters of particular interest to them, the collection as a whole offers a sophisticated and engaging overview of the history of philosophical discussion of moral motivation, and would make an excellent companion to an upper level course on the topic. I recommend the volume to anyone with an interest in the history of the philosophical study of moral motivation. * David H. Kaufman, Bryn Mawr Classical Review *

About the Author

Iakovos Vasiliou is currently Professor of Philosophy at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. He has published a number of articles on Plato and Aristotle, and is the author of Aiming at Virtue in Plato (Cambridge University Press, 2008). He has also taught at Brooklyn College, Georgia State University, and Johns Hopkins University.

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Book Info

Publication date

17th June 2016


Iakovos (Professor of Philosophy, The Graduate Center, City University of New York) Vasiliou

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Oxford University Press


320 pages


Ethics & moral philosophy
Western philosophy: Ancient, to c 500
History of Western philosophy



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